Thursday, May 30, 2024

Farmer Protest 2.0? What are their demands and how should government respond?

Tanmay Sharma 

Farmers from Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh have reached the Delhi border to protest for new demands. Unlike the previous farmer protest which began in 2020, the demands are now different and are led by a small farmer organization i.e., SKU (Sankyukt Kisan Morcha).

Nearly 25000 farmers and more than 5000 trucks are at the border. The farmers plan to march inside the capital of the nation.

What are farmers demanding?

The last farmer protest was mainly focused on repealing the new farm laws introduced by the government. However, this time the demands have changed. They are against the government setting the MSP of two dozen commodities twice a year on the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices recommendation.

The demands of the farmers include:

  • Currently, the MSP for 23 crops is fixed by the government. The farmers want a law that fixes MSP on every crop.
  • Farmers also want a 50% increase in the MSP based on the production cost. This was recommended by the MS Swaminathan Committee on Agriculture.
  • Pension of Rs 10,000 for all farmers above 60 years old and compensation to all the families of the farmers who died in the last protest.
  • Scrap Electricity Bill.
  • Step back from the WTO pact.

What are the steps taken by the government?

Considering the initial stage and urgency of the situation, three Union Ministers Piyush Goyal, Nityanand Rai and Arjun Munda had a meeting with the farmer leaders. Also, it has been shared that the talks with farmers are done with open minds and to find common ground as a solution.

As of now the government has sealed the borders and stopped the farmers from entering the national capital. However, currently, the mobilization is lower as compared to the previous protest. 25,000 farmers and around 5,000 tractors are part of the protest so far.

The government has to take immediate action as it can get bigger and turn into a massive protest which can affect the transportation and agricultural sector of the country and eventually affect the economy.

What steps can the government take?

  • The government can fix the MSP for all crops considering the compilation of exports, market and economy.
  • With the last bill passed in favour of private organizations, the price of electricity might increase, which the farmers are worried about, despite the subsidy on electricity for farmers. The government can clarify and negotiate plans that are beneficial for the farmers.
  • Before the protest involves the bigger leaders from the farmer unions, the government can negotiate and settle down the protest.

The protest is at an early stage now led by the SKM (Sanyukt Kisan Morcha). However, it can be later influenced by the bigger leaders like Tikait, Ugrahan and Rajewal. If that happens, we can see a farmer protest 2.0 or a ‘Farmers vs the Government showdown’ again this year.

There is a lot of dependency on the center’s outreach and security strategy as it may either calm or excite the protest.

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